St. Augustine Plane Crash Kills 3: FAA Liable Pays $3.75 Million for Faulty Instructions

When private plane pilot, Gary Tillman of Rome, Georgia decided to leave for a pre-Christmas holiday in the Bahamas, he didn’t know his engine would quit. Tillman had just left from the Craig Airfield in Jacksonville in December 2005. On board were his daughter Hannah, and her friends, Anna Kipp, and Rachael Hostetler, according to an article.

Not long after takeoff, an engine quit.

Tillman asked air traffic controllers for help in making an emergency beach landing nearby as he was about one mile off Vilano Beach, just north of St. Augustine. But he followed the FAA directions to travel south to the St. Augustine Airport, a few miles south.

The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to pay $3.75 million for failing to help the pilot make the emergency landing. Instead, Tillman, his daughter, Hannah, and her friend Anna Kipp died in the Atlantic off Vilano Beach when they couldn’t make it safely to the airport. Tillman told the FAA after the instructions, “We’re not going to make it,” just before he crashed.

The other teen, Rachel Hostetler, was pulled from the water and was the only one to survive the crash.

Out condolences go out to all of the family members of those lost in this crash, which could have been prevented if Tillman been directed to the beach instead of south.

As attorney Woody Wilner told the jury, the air traffic controllers were at fault for the Florida wrongful death accident because Tillman had requested a beach landing.

“He had one request. You know where I am, you have radar, I don’t,” Wilner said. Instead, the controllers sent him over water.

The FAA is the authority, empowered by Congress, to promote aviation safety and the public. What happened here indicates they did not act fast enough in ascertaining the seriousness of the situation to save these three precious lives. Also indicative was that the controllers were slow in notifying the U.S. Coast Guard to the scene after the crash.

The FAA did not admit any fault in the accident.

At Farah and Farah, our experienced Florida aviation accident lawyers understand the pain, stress and confusion that families must endure when a plane crash takes the life of a loved one. For those who are lucky enough to survive an aviation accident, very often steep hospital bills await them for treating serious injuries. With our knowledge of air transportation laws, we will begin an investigation into your accident immediately to get you and your family the compensation you deserve. Call Farah and Farah today for a free consultation at 800-533-3555.